Turtle, Ecuador

Your words, not ours

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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

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  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    WALKING IN BOSNIA & HERZEGOVINA

    Bosnia has it all for hill walkers except the crowds.  Walking, nature and history come together in a country of many textures and complexities.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Oberving how the Bosnian people have made peace with one another and and sucessfully rebuilt their country.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    First class.  Samer had all the qualities one looks for in guide with some to spare.  The guides overall gave much informaton about Bosnia politics and history as well as the mountains.  The overall feel was very relaxed even on long days.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is quite hot in August and not all hotels have air conditioning.  Also lifts are scarce so traveling light is advisable.  The heights mentioned in the trip notes may be overstated.  On the long day, one section was supposed to be challenging concerning drops, but I didn't notice it and I assumed that we went a different route.  Apparently, not!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Bosnia is a inexpensive country and mostly unspoilt by tourism.  The hills are impressinve yet very few walkers go there.  Because tourist is underdeveloped, Bosnia has a relaxed feel, where hawkers and high prices are a rarity. 
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLE INDOCHINA & ANGKOR

    A great trip and a great experience, with excellent ground operation in all 3 countries, which made the trip work just so well. Initially nervous about the distance and the humidity, plus the water issues, these turned out to be just fine, and 2 days in BKK before starting the trip, helped with acclimatizing to the humidity. There was no shortage of cold, fresh, filtered water from the guys on the support teams in all 3 countries, and the added bonus of an electrolyte sachet each fill if needed, was just perfect.  The roads in Thailand were simply fantastic, smooth, flat, fast, and using the ring roads we did, were traffic free. Cambodian roads was also good, and once the border crossing into Vietnam, the banks of the Mekong river, and her tributaries became our path, which were narrow, but smooth, and allows you to see the real village life and the friendliness of the local people. Excellent ground operators, excellent mechanical support, with great local knowledge, and good accommodation made the trip. The home stay, ( like many others, had visions of communal hostel sleeping arrangements ) was excellent, and in fact I would call it a Lodge, and was a true highlight of the trip. All rooms had their own showers and toilets, all 100% clean, and the family were just great. Cold beers on arrival, and a rice wine if need be, so enjoy the evening !!  

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I was a first time visitor to Cambodia, having done Thailand and Vietnam before, but certainly S21 and The Killing Fields in Phnom Penh were both high lights and low lights. As the local guide was at pains to explain, they cannot hide their history, and they are not proud of the actions of the Khmer Rouge, but the story has to be told, and to use his term, Cambodia is now " open for business " and is under very different conditions to that of '75 - '79.  Angkor Wat cant be described, and simply must be seen, so enjoy the day trip, its well worth it. Siem Reap is a great city, vibrant, and safe.The school visit was also inspirational, and to see these young children just so hungry to learn from volunteer teachers, led by an incredibly inspirational Mr Long Waha, was truly a highlight.  

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Moh was just great, and capably helped by Mee, who along with the ground operators, and the support guys, combined to make the whole leadership thing work just so well. Not once was either Moh or Mee down ( even when Moh decided to get close to the ground on one stage ! ) and they have such good patience with everyone, to make it so enjoyable.Go for the bulk dining and ordering thing which the leaders will do for you ( dont worry about separate ordering ) its makes it so much easier, and its generally such good food, and cheap as. Moh and Mee had it down pat, and worked excellently.The bike leaders were also just great and just a word to wise, dont take the guys on in Thailand, they are good, in fact, very good !! The open, flat, quiet roads allowed some us to have a go on some of the stages with them, and they are more than up for it !!  

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Perhaps consider some riding gear ( gloves, a good helmet, and some good padded shorts ) plus also look to take drylite clothing, which you can hand rinse each night, and it will be dry for the next days stage. But also useful when the tropical rain arrives, and means you will dry out quickly. Your choice if you take a shower jacket, but if you take drylite tops and shorts, then these will dry very quickly.      MTB Shoes, Cleats and Pedals are not necessary, but do make it a little easier, especially on some of the longer stages in Thailand.   Bikes were great, Specialized, with good gear set groupings, and no longer than 12 months old. Washed and serviced everynight, and a full inventory of parts if ever needed.Oh, and 1 more thing, Take plenty of deoderant !!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A magic trip, great operators, and great balance of riding and holiday With just a litle bike fitness, enjoy a great 14 days !
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLING IN THE LOIRE VALLEY

    Beautiful countryside and the cycling was very gentle.  The food and wine in the region was a real highlight. It was a really stress free holiday.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It's a very gentle holiday, with a chance to see a different chateau every day - from the well known ones to litttle local chateaus and castles.  Food and wine along the way was wonderful.  Hotels were 2 star and had fans rather than air con - but that was OK apart from one very hot night.  Friendly local hotels which was great. 

    What did you think of your group leader?

    n/a - self guided.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The French trains are really well set up for bicycles - so if you want to on the Blois day take the train in and cycle back that is really easy.  We took the train both ways in order to have a bike free day and long enough to see Blois. Check the train timetables though as there are some odd gaps in service in the day.  There was only one part on the first day that was on quite a busy road (for about 2km), but after that  the rest of the trip was on very quiet roads or designated cycle paths. We took the short routes as that was enough for us - and they seemed very well planned.  I thought the route map given by Exodus was great - there was only one point where we got the big map out to check. 

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    The bicycles were perfect, the organisation of the bags etc went really smoothly.  Finding places to picnic was easy, the Exodus guide gave some suggestions.  We also took a couple of days at the end in Tours, then a train with only one change back to Charles De Gaulle - really liked Tours, recommend it! 
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF THE ATLAS

    An outstanding trip, dramatic scenary and challenging trekking days

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Reaching the peak of Mount Toubkal as a group and sharing the moment

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Hasan was outstanding, not only did all the muleteers and Hasan deal with the constraints of Ramadan they ensured that we received the full service support throughout the trip and nothing seemed too much. They all had an excellent sense of humour and provide the support and encouragement when it was most needed.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The days often start early in the morning to avoid the heat and often finish early afternoon, be prepared to spend time at the campsite in rural locations so take a supply of books, a solar power battery recharger may help as you cna then keep the ipod and kindle fully charged.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Take a spare bag to leave in the joining hotel with some extra clothes for the last couple of days in Marrakech, the Exodus kitbags are great but you gear will often be dusty so clean clothes at the end of the week would be very welcome.
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    CYCLING VIETNAM

    Vietnam is one of the touching Exodus trips I've been on, in terms of its history, natural beauty, village life, and potential for change (for better or worse).  I highly recommend that people take the opportunity to see it now, as it the pace of change is evident.  From sweeping deserted beaches, to luxurious mountain regions, and the ever present farming (land and sea), this country is determined to develop on its own terms.  Taking it all in at bike level is simply the best way to travel and Exodus again pulls out all the stops to make it an enjoyable and rewarding trip.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Many, of course!  Cycling through the villages with kids, scooters and buffalo everywhere was a great change from the frenetic and always entertaining city life.  The hammocks at every cafe!  Vietnamese have the low down on afternoon relaxation.  Great hills, both up and down, even in the July/Aug heat.  The roads were better than expected, and the lack of car traffic was quietly appreciated (altho the scooters are sure to provide a few anxious moments).  Seeing the bus with the home made lemonade ready.... The cooling water spouts half way up the Hai Van pass  :-)....  The 30km downhill section in the mountains..... The incredible cemetary road....  And the rather energetic Glee performances of our group at every available prompt (you had to be there!!)  Halong Bay is an absolute treat at the end of the tour.  And the food .... aaah, the food.  Fresh and healthy, what more could you want?

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Danh (the man) truly loves his job and his country, and it shows.  His desire to share knowledge and background so we understand the history and what we're seeing is great.  Superb organisational skills in a country which I imagine presents some unusual challenges at times, plus little things which made a difference to every one of us.  His patience is amazing.  The support staff were brilliant, with the quickest tire changes in the East and a helping push up the hills if flagging!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    To truly enjoy this be reasonably fit, although you don't necessarily need to be bike fit, it's good to have basic bike handling skills for those little moments of rough road or unexpected scooters.  There are some "undulating" days but this provides interest and to some a nice challenge.  Vietnam is quite hot this time of year, so camelbaks would be good to carry more water if you are a heavy drinker, but the bus/truck are never far away if you run out between stops.  Be prepared for rain on some days.  I generally wore lycra which wasn't a problem locally.  You may find your own clipless pedals are good for the hills.   Those who suffer from sea sickness be sure to take your pills so you enjoy the whole tour experience as there are several excellent boat trips you don't want to miss.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This tour is quite full on, don't expect to have hours on hand for shopping, etc.  It covers quite a good distance in a combination of cycling, transfer, and alternative forms (overnight train and boat).  However, some great relaxing moments on day boat trips, and swimming before dinner at some hotels.  The hotels were better standard than I was expecting and sharing was never too crowded.  Great trip!
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    JOHANNESBURG TO CAPE TOWN

    This was a fantastic tour from sights to meals to guides. This was our first Exodus tour and will not be our last. I'm not sure if we were just fortunate but considering the tour was full (16 people) we had a terrific group of people to travel with. My only negative would be the amount of driving we had to do to cover so many miles, that said, it was totally worth it for all we saw and the bus was thankfully air conditioned and comfortable.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    We are stumped as there is so much to choose from. Lesotho was inspiring, the Rhino walk humbling, Titsikarma breathtaking and, my personal favorite, the Drakkensburg mountains were majestic. A peaceful place I would happily return to. The wildlife we saw included the big 5 and soooo much more!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Rob, Sufiso, Shawn and Jacob were terrific! Rob was very knowledgable and helpful, interesting and competent. I think he was pulling his hair out at times with such a big group but he managed the personalities and challenges very well. Sufiso is a fantastic driver, always friendly and helpful but quiet and in control. Shawn was also helpful, friendly, fun and interesting. Jacob was shy but very helpful and strong I think physically he worked the hardest with set up and take down but always with a big smile. They all seemed to know what needed to be done and worked well together. Plus their cooking was awesome!!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack light!! I did not and no one thanked me for it including myself. Have something to do on the bus be it music, books etc. This trip is not for those who are looking to relax, it is busy, exciting and fun but not restful.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was a fun, affordable and realistic way to see as much of South Africa as possible in 21 days and we highly recommend it!!
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    SPITSBERGEN IN DEPTH

    A photographic polar pilgrimage of preposterous proportions.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    A plethora of polar bears posing on pulsating pack ice - a photographic paradise.Fornicating Phalaropes - positively pornographic!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The sub adult males teased, tantalised and thrilled their captive audience of artic virgins. "Goldstein" with his garrulous gags and nightly nautical nibbles. Wayfaring "Woody" with his witty words of wisdom.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Wear loose fitting trousers to accomodate your newly acquired "Vavilov Belly".

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Whales and walrus, seabirds and seals, bergy bits, growlers and glaciers. An artic orgy of overwhelming opulence.
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    WALKING IN BOSNIA HERZEGOVINA

    A fantastic walking trip in spectacular scenery where you'll most likely meet nobody else, plus the chance for sightseeing in Dubrovnik, Sarajavo & Mostar. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The walking is reasonably challenging but the views are exceptional - there are some very long days, some very steep scrambles and one very long steep descent all of which can test you when the temperatures are in the mid to high 30's! (August 2012).  You do need a head for heights at times with a few steep drops.  The ascent of Maglic Mountain (2386m) is a very long day but was fantastic with spectacular views all around, plus the chance of a dip  in Trnovacko Lake (in Montenegro) to cool off about three-quarters of the way round.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our group leader was Samer Hajri? from Green Visions, a local Bosnian company - he and his assistant Damir were everything that you need from a group leader - always there with information and assistance.  Helpful, polite and enthusiastic - obviously proud Bosnians who love to show people what their country has to offer.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    As you might expect from this part of the world, the inclusive meals in this trip will be quite baisc and some of the accommodation, whilst clean and tidy, is rather small and basic.There is more travelling on buses throughout the trip than I was expecting - most days involved a bus trip both to and from each day walk of an hour or two, plus the transfer days of course.  The bus trips to walks and back were also on very rough roads, especially in the nataional park.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend that you add on a couple of days (either before or after the trip) so that you can explore Dubrovnik properly as you really don't get much time there at all in the schedule (arrive about 4pm on Friday and depart about 11am on Saturday for the airport) plus the hotel Exodus use is about 15 minutes on the bus/in a taxi from the old city.
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    TAJ, TIGERS & TEMPLES - FAMILY HOLIDAY

    The trip was busy and we did a lot in the time provided. India draws you in and we will need time to process everything we saw, heard and experienced. Memories will be plentiful! I would recommend this trip to anyone who likes to experience different cultures, lifestyles, architecture and a different climate.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Too many highlights to list!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Tour Guide Chandra was excellent. He was constantly attentive and making sure the trip was successful. His knowledge was very impressive and meant we were well informed when visiting sites and experiencing northern India's culture and religion. Nothing was too much trouble for the guide and I would definitely recommend Chandra as a guide.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Ask for Chandra as a guide as he will make the experience that much better! This is a busy trip so be prepared for early starts and long hot days filled with things to see and do and enjoy!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Go for it!
  • Reviewed August 2012
    Anonymous

    DISCOVER SRI LANKA

    A great trip which showed much of the variety of this beautiful country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing a huge bull elephant ambling across the plains at Yala - this was particularly good after seein them in peraheras...

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Sampath was excellent, he was considerate, thoughtful and careful to offer us information about his culture at appropriate moments which meant I understood much more than I would have done otherwise. He was able to keep the group together and on schedule in an unobtrusive way and tried to accommodate the requests of individuals without inconveniencing the group. He was really kind and had a great sens of humour. The tipping kitty and water fund worked well and I liked the way that he used some of this to help those selling fruits etc. and tried, in this way, to spread the benefits of tourism through his country.Prasanna (our driver) and Udithe (assistant) also looked after us very well, Udithe was always ready to shin up a tree to pick some fruit for us to try. They all worked well as a team and the cricket games were enjoyed by all.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The Royal Lotus was the only hotel that was a littl ropey and check the state of your bike thoroughly before seting off - they weren't maintained very well (broken chain and moving saddle) which made the bike ride uncomfortable - though the meal we had on this day was one of the best!Try to see a local perahera - not just the Kandy Esala spectacle.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Sometimes the hotel buffets, though invariably tasty, can become a little repetitive, take the opportunity to eat in other places when in Kandy / Bandarawela etc.
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